By Gary Hazelberg, Grandy & Associates

If you asked most people what they want to improve about themselves they would probably pick a weakness, not a strength.  Studies have shown that we tend to see our weaknesses more changeable than our strengths.  However, many successful people have learned that when we focus on developing our strengths, we grow faster than when we try to improve our weaknesses.

If you concentrate on strengths, most people are happier, less stressed and more confident.  You certainly can’t ignore your weaknesses but spending as much time working in your strengths will provide a lot of positive energy. 

Do you find that you are falling short of the goals you have set for yourself?  You will find that it is easier to hit these goals if you work on improving your strengths instead of spending all of your time on your weakness.  Carol Dweck, Stanford University professor of Psychology, writes in her book ‘Mindset’; “With a fixed mindset, talent is enough to lead to success and effort to improve these talents isn’t required: one is born with a certain amount of skill and intelligence that can’t be improved upon.”  The opposite of a fixed mindset is a growth mindset.  Dweck says; “Those who hold a growth mindset believe that they can get better at something by dedication of time, effort and energy.”

To improve yourself, you need to have a growth mindset, identify your strengths and use them, in addition, you need to understand that your strengths can be improved.

What are your strengths?  If you are like most individuals, you are probably better at identifying your weaknesses.  You probably have painful memories of when you had to do something that you knew you were not good at and it showed, at least in your mind. 

Finding your strengths can be difficult.  The memories of when things went right usually fade quicker than the painful memories.

So, how do you find your strengths.

First of all, pay attention to when you are your happiest. 

Do you enjoy speaking to others and wonder why others find it daunting; do you find that you are the dreamer on the team, always thinking about the long-term future; or are you the detail person that really enjoys diving into the minute details.  Everyone has a different set of strengths; sometimes you have to step back and really look at yourself to discover them. 

Secondly, listen to others. They may be telling you what you don’t see.  For example, I always pictured myself as a technical guy, never ever a sales person. Early in my career I was asked to move from a technical position to a sales position, I actually told my boss at the time that I would rather leave the company than go into sales.  He explained how he saw that I had an ability to communicate, along with a great understanding of the product and with some training, I was able to succeed at the sales position and I spent the rest of my career in sales and sales management positions.  I learned to depend on my strengths; communication and technical knowledge.  Without being pushed into a role by someone who saw something I did not, I might never have realized what seemed obvious to others.

Be intentional about your strengths search.  Talk to a trusted co-worker, manager or mentor.  Ask them what they think your strengths are. 

Think about how you feel when you are doing different things.  What do you look forward to doing?  What were you doing when you had a great day?  When do you feel empowered and when do you feel drained?  Write it down, see how you can work more of these positive things into your activities.

Author Marcus Buckingham says; “A strength is not what you are good at, and a weakness is not what you are bad at.  A strength is an activity that strengthens you. It draws you in, it makes time fly by while you’re doing it, and it makes you feel strong.”

Going through the process of identifying your strengths will allow you to know yourself much better and feel more in control of your path forward.

Once you identify your strengths, talk to your manager, mentor or coworker; do they agree?  Discuss how you can take advantage of your strengths to move your job or your team forward. 

Identifying your strengths and working in those areas as much as possible will make you feel happier and more confident in your work life and be able to achieve those goals you have set for yourself. 

Grandy & Associates can provide Team Assessments that will give the DISC test to the employees you select.  These assessments will show you and the employee where their strengths are, how they should communicate with others, and how to most effectively communicate with them. 

We also do Job Benchmarking; this will show you how the individual’s strengths align with the job they are being asked to do.  Benchmarking is also used to help decide if an individual is ready for management or other roles. 

For more information on Team Assessments and Job Benchmarking, go HERE.